Target credit card data was sent to server in Russia

The data was quietly moved around on Target's network before it was sent to a US server, then to Russia

Security company Seculert found that data stolen in the Target breach was received by a compromised U.S. server, then sent to a Russian server.

Security company Seculert found that data stolen in the Target breach was received by a compromised U.S. server, then sent to a Russian server.

The stolen credit card numbers of millions of Target shoppers took an international trip - to Russia.

A peek inside the malicious software that infected Target's POS (point-of-sale) terminals is revealing more detail about the methods of the attackers as security researchers investigate one of the most devastating data breaches in history.

Findings from two security companies show the attackers breached Target's network and stayed undetected for more than two weeks.

"The intrusion operators displayed innovation and a high degree of skill in orchestrating the various components of the activity," according to a January 14 report from iSight Partners, a Dallas-based information security company.

Over two weeks, the malware collected 11GB of data from Target's POS terminals, said Aviv Raff, CTO of the security company Seculert, in an interview via instant message on Thursday. Seculert analyzed a sample of the malware, which is circulating among security researchers.

The data was first quietly moved to another server on Target's network, according to a writeup on Seculert's blog. It was then transmitted in chunks to a U.S.-based server that the attackers had hijacked, Raff said.

Logs from that compromised server show the data was moved again to a server based in Russia starting on December 2. Raff said it's difficult to say if the attackers are based in Russia.

"No one knows who is really behind this," he said.

ISight is working with the US Secret Service to look into the Target breach, which compromised payment card and personal details of up to 110 million people between November 27 and December 15, 2013, the busiest shopping time of the year.

A US Department of Homeland Security spokesman said Thursday that a separate, private report with input from iSight and government agencies on the Target compromise could not be publicly released.

Target has not revealed how intruders breached its network but said that its POS terminals were infected with malware.

In its January 14 analysis, iSight wrote that the "Trojan.POSRAM" malware collected unencrypted payment card information just after it was swiped at Target and while it sat in a POS terminal's memory. The type of malware it used is known as a RAM scraper.

The code of "Trojan.POSRAM" bears a strong resemblance to "BlackPOS," another type of POS malware, iSight wrote. BlackPOS was being used by cyberattackers as far back as March 2013.

At the time of its discovery, Trojan.POSRAM "had a zero percent antivirus detection rate, which means that fully updated antivirus engines on fully patched computers could not identify the software as malicious," iSight said.

Small code changes are often made to malware to make it undetectable to security products, which appears to have been done in this case.

Although Trojan.POSRAM and BlackPOS are similar, the Target malware contains a new attack method that evades forensic detection and conceals data transfers, making it hard to detect, iSight wrote on its website.

Target's problems point to the difficulties of defending large, Internet-connected networks, said Levi Gundert, a former Secret Service agent and now a technical lead for threat research, analysis and communications at Cisco.

"It's literally impossible to prevent unauthorized access to the network," Gundert said in a phone interview.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags securitymalwaredata protectiondata breachintrusionTargetSeculertiSight Partners

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

PC World Evaluation Team Review - MSI GT75 TITAN

"I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it."

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?